Universities Minister, David Willets, has criticised graduate employers for recruitment habits that may discriminate students coming from less prestigious institutions.
Employers are seeking graduates from an unnecessarily small pool of talent, whilst complaining that finding the right graduates is extremely difficult; many are selecting from a hugely narrow talent pool.
Mr Willets criticised recruitment programmes that put applicants from six universities in priority, behind other suitable candidates from different institutions. In addition to this he stated that degree grades being used for the basis of selection was crude, insisting that the current system of classification was outdated and failed to provide a thorough view of students’ abilities. As many as three quarters of leading employers require a 1st or 2.1 to even be considered for interview.
Students discussed how a good degree classification is not the be all and end all:
“I know people that have applied for jobs with a 2.2 when the specifications have asked for a 2.1 and been selected for interview and got it. I also know people that haven’t been to university at all and got some years experience behind them and got a good job and working their way up (this would depend on what jobs you want, obviously).”
“I think you just have to put yourself out there, never say never.”
“Its tough out there, I have experience in the work place that I have gained through various jobs. However my degree is 2:2 in Law. To be honest I’m not disheartened too much anymore, still going to do my LPC and I’m still trying for a decent job. Just have to set your sights realistically… Sometimes its not about what you know but who you know in this day and age.”
The Universities Minister is calling for a graduate style ‘report card’ which provides a detailed breakdown of academic achievements as well as extra-curricular activities. This would give employers more to consider when hiring rather than raw grades alone. There have also been calls for graduate employers to systematically review their hiring policies to ensure that talented candidates from ALL backgrounds were considered fairly.
Thirty universities are currently testing the so-called Higher Education Achievement report (Hear) as a more advanced system opposed to simple degree classifications; in two years all graduates are expected to be issued them. More detail, as included in this report, than the current binary system hopes to provide more ‘value’ to graduate’s final results and in turn hopefully changing the way employers view a degree.
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Nearly 2 thirds of graduates come out with a 1st or upper second class degree, but admissions numbers begin to fall.